HK Film Archive celebrates work of director Zhu Shilin
Director Zhu Shilin lived a simple life and made mostly simple films of ordinary people and their daily life. Yet he lived in epic times and his films take on epic scale. Born into turbulent times, Zhu lived through modern China from monarchy to civil war. He was partially paralysed in his early youth and suffered from severe physical limitations all his life, yet he persisted, leaving an indelible mark in an industry well known for its demand for physical and mental resilience.
He was a storyteller and a stylist, his work a coalescence of classical Chinese lyricism and modern Western romanticism. Well versed in every aspect of the film industry, he excelled in a diversity of genres, from family melodramas to romantic comedies, from contemporary dramas to historical epics. Highly respected by film critics of his time, his work continues to inspire to this day awe and admiration from film lovers and scholars alike. He is one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of Chinese cinema.
As a contribution to the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) has organised the retrospective, “Epic Times, Simple Stories: The World of Zhu Shilin,” to showcase the remarkable achievement of this outstanding filmmaker.
Twenty-nine of his works from the 1930s to 1960s will be shown in 24 screenings during the HKIFF from March 20 to April 6, and 28 screenings from April 12 to May 12. All films will be screened at the Cinema of the HKFA.
Among the archival treasures, seven rare 1930s works by Zhu will be screened, with prints kindly provided by the China Film Archive. They include acknowledged masterpieces of Chinese cinema: “Two Stars”, “Civil Wind”, “Song of a Kind Mother”, “New Times, Old Times” and “The Lost Pearl”; “Homecoming”, an early film that has rarely been seen since its initial release but is in fact a greatly accomplished work that measures up to the best; and “Vistas of Art: Film City", a powerful drama spiced with interesting movieland sketches.
Several classics of Hong Kong cinema are included in the lineup: “Sorrows of the Forbidden City”, a historical epic that changed history; “Thunderstorm” and “Garden of Repose”, masterful adaptations of literary masterpieces; the comedies, “The Dividing Wall”, “Festival Moon”, “Should They Marry?” and “Between Fire and Water”, all of which are treasured as astute comments on societal conditions through laughter; the powerful melodramas, “A Widow’s Tears” and “The Foolish Heart”; the opera adaptations, “The Eternal Beauty” and “Chan San and Wuniang”.
To complement the screenings, there will be a two-month exhibition from March 21 to June 9 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA, presenting oral history interviews, photos, historical documents and precious archival materials donated by Zhu’s descendants, Chu Fung and Chu Yan. Admission is free.
A new book, “Zhu Shilin: A Filmmaker of His Times,” will be released during the retrospective. It will be in separate English and Chinese editions, with essays by renowned writers and interviews with Zhu’s children and protégé Cen Fan.
In addition, researchers and scholars from Beijing and Hong Kong will share their experiences in two seminars to be held at the Cinema of the HKFA. “The Films of Zhu Shilin” will be at 5pm on March 22 and “Zhu Shilin in the Context of Chinese Cinema” at 4.30pm on April 5. Both seminars will be conducted in Cantonese and Mandarin.
“Two Stars”, “The Lost Pearl”, “Sorrows of the Forbidden City”, “The Eternal Beauty”, “Garden of Repose”, “A Widow’s Tears”, “The Eternal Love”, “The Dividing Wall” and “Festival Moon” have English subtitles.
Tickets for all screenings are priced at $30. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients.
Ticketing for films screened from March 20 to April 6 will follow that of the HKIFF, with postal booking from February 23 to 29 and at HKIFF website (http://www.hkiff.org.hk
) from February 23 to March 5. Internet bookings can be made at http://www.urbtix.hk
, phone reservations at 2734 9009, and counter bookings at all URBTIX outlets are available from March 6.
Detailed information and various discounts during the HKIFF can be obtained in the 32nd HKIFF programme and booking folder or the “ProFolio 41” distributed at all performance venues of the LCSD. For programme enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the websites: http://www.filmarchive.gov.hk
Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2008